The CR 4608 and its sister 4607 lead an eastbound manifest freight across the lower part of the unique two-level Safe Harbor Bridge over the Conestoga River. These 3,300 hp motors were built by General Electric for the Virginian Railway as Class EL-C, in January, 1957, and December, 1956, respectively.
The 295-foot long lower level bridge, comprised of three riveted deck plate girders, was built during the Pennsylvania Railroad's glory days under President Alexander J. Cassatt, replacing the original 1904 flood-destroyed six-arch stone bridge of the Columbia & Port Deposit Branch (C&PD.) The new lower level bridge was originally designed to be 55 feet above the 1905 river level. The new upper level line, 96 feet to the east, and then 92 feet above the C&PD, was known as the Atglen & Susquehanna Branch, (A&S, or a.k.a. "The Low Grade") opening in July, 1906, a month earlier than the flood-damaged lower level.
The spectacular double-tracked upper level bridge was the last project for the PRR's chief engineer, William H. Brown, before his retirement. It consists of a center 300-foot pin-connected Pratt deck truss, with plate-girder viaducts on steel bents at each end; nine spans totaling 480 feet at the (RR) west end, and seventeen curving spans totaling 780 feet on the (RR) east end. The high stone piers supporting the 300-foot center truss are integral with the lower level supports, making this truly "two bridges in one." The Pennsylvania Steel Co. of Steelton, PA fabricated the steel work, which was erected by contractor H. S. Kerbaugh, Inc., during 1905.
Construction of the Safe Harbor Dam in 1930-31 compelled the PRR to raise the grade of the C&PD by four feet in this area, hiring the Belmont Iron Works to do the job on the lower level bridge. Electrification of both lines followed shortly thereafter, in 1937-38.
The upper level "Enola Low Grade" was eventually single-tracked in the late 80s and finally abandoned by Conrail in 1990 in favor of its Lebanon Valley Line, and survives today as a rail-trail to the east and west of the high bridge. There's some talk of reopening the high bridge to hikers and bikers, but there are no concrete plans in the works. Daytime traffic today on the lower level is practically nil, as a result of the notorious Chase, Maryland wreck of 1987 involving three Conrail light engines and an Amtrak passenger train. The last electrically-powered train on the C&PD may have been the "Farewell to the GG-1" excursion operated by the Lancaster Chapter NRHS in June, 1981. All trolley wires on both levels were removed by Conrail sometime in the mid-80s.